Three Games to Watch: Week Three

Without any marquee Top 25 matchups, teams coming off statement wins get their chance in the spotlight.


Photo by Emily Gonçalves

Jesse Goldman

Weeks One and Two in college football had blockbuster matchups to headline the primetime window in Oregon vs. Auburn and LSU at Texas. Week Three is different, full of tune-ups for the nation’s top teams before conference play begins. This week the games to watch are not those involving the top ten teams, as they all figure to steamroll their opponents barring any unforeseen upsets. Instead, the most important games are those that have nuanced playoff implications that will show up in a few months when the Playoff Selection Committee gets together for the final time. 

TCU @ Purdue (pk)

With Ryan Day taking over for Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan offense struggling early, some people are beginning to think that the Big Ten may miss out on the College Football Playoff for the third year in a row. Although Purdue was upset by Nevada on a field goal in Week One, they rebounded with a dominating victory against Vanderbilt in Week Two. If Michigan or Ohio State ends the season with a loss on its resume, strong records for other Big Ten teams would bolster each school’s playoff argument. Purdue winning a tough pick ‘em game at home against a Big 12 team would move the Boilermakers record to 2-1 in out-of-conference play, with a mental asterisk next to the Nevada game that suggests what was supposed to be a 3-0 record. Obviously it is unlikely that either Purdue or TCU will make the playoff, but this game could be the reason that a couple Big Ten teams miss out. 

Pittsburgh @ (13) Penn State -17

The battle for Pennsylvania will continue for a fourth straight year, with Pitt traveling to State College to take on first-year starter Sean Clifford and the Nittany Lions. The Penn State offense has been phenomenal through the first two games, with speedster K.J. Hamler proving he can be more than just a return specialist. Losing Trace McSorely and Miles Sanders to the draft and young receiver Juwan Johnson to the transfer portal has people overlooking Penn State, claiming they will not be relevant until next season. However, if the offense continues to perform at this high of a level , Penn State may throw its hat in the ring for the Big Ten East championship. If the Nittany Lions and Head Coach James Franklin want a chance at what has been an elusive playoff bid, they must beat Pittsburgh on Saturday. Penn State’s schedule in not scarce in chances to win tough games, as they will face Maryland, Iowa, Michigan State, and Ohio State on the road, in addition to drawing Michigan at home. All five of those teams are currently ranked, giving Penn State one of the hardest schedules in the country. Put simply, you have to win the easy ones. 

(24) USC -4.5 @ BYU

USC’s Athletic Director Lynn Swann resigned earlier this week after a three year tenure at the the position. The university’s President Carol L. Folt was hired in March, and it seems that she felt it was necessary to clean house in the Athletic Department. After a disappointing 2018 season (5-7), Head Coach Clay Helton knew the ice was thin coming into this year. Southern Cal has been a football powerhouse throughout the 21st century, and losing five games within the Pac-12 in one year is simply unacceptable. If BYU can once again play spoiler like they did against Tennessee, Clay Helton may be the next man out. For him to secure his job for the time being, it feels like he needs to dominate this game. The spread is -4.5 and any game on the road will be difficult, but at the moment one might think that President Folt is looking for reasons to get rid of Helton. A close game against BYU may give her one.